The delicious Neapolitan Babbà actually is not born at the slope of the Vesuvius but in the cold North, precisely in a French small town called Luneville, on the border with Germany.
The Polish king Stanislaw Leszczyński, father-in-law of Louis XV of France who had married his daughter Mary, invented it. Thanks to its important relatives, he had had as golden handshake the Duchy of Lorraine where he could build impossible political recipes for the future of Europe. The king Stanislaw Leszczyński passed into the annals of history for the sole serious thing made in his life: inventing the babbà!
King Stanislaw Leszczyński
It is said that the king has dunked in the Madeira a slice of kugelhopf, the hermaphroditic Austrian dessert, that is, half panettone and half brioche, and that from then he has always wanted it in this way.
His great passion for cooking brought to new and richer elaborations with the dough risen three times and beaten to have a lighter paste, full of raisin and with saffron, really appreciated by the Turks that he had met as prisoner when for the first time he had lost his kingdom.
Even the form of the babbà changes and becomes that of the dome of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, while the chosen name came from Ali Babà, the protagonist of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’. This meeting of culture and suggestions has brought to define the babà as ‘dessert of the Lights’. In short, while the overwhelming majority of the desserts rises from the farm culture, the babbà is born from an idea.
A breakthrough is the decision to dunk it, necessary to preserve the softness of the dessert otherwise destined to turn in stone in few hours. Stanislaw chose the Madeira and later in Versailles, which dictated the trends, the Jamaican rum was used.
Then, it happened that the pastry chef coming from Poland, Sthorer, who followed the exile of the glutton king in Luneville and moved with his daughter Mary to Versailles (where in 1725 she married Louis XV), decided to open his own laboratory in Rue Montorgueil, present still today, where he created the babbà with the shape of a mushroom or a cook hat as we know it today.